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White House warns Syria may be readying chemical attack

WASHINGTON — The White House charged late Monday that Syria seemed to be making preparations for a chemical attack and warned strongman Bashar Assad that he and his regime “will pay a heavy price” for any mass slaughter of civilians.

The unusual statement, attributed to press secretary Sean Spicer, did not include any details of how or what the United States knew about the possible attack, nor how confident U.S. officials were that Assad might carry it out.

“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” Spicer said.

“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will...


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From City to Jungle, a New Novel Summons the Politics and History of Two Islands - New York Times

With a mere flick of description, Laird summons vast stretches of politics and history. Here is his brief summation of the economic bubble as experienced in Ballyglass, the town Liz hails from: “A shop selling only mobile phone cases opened. A shop selling designer children’s clothes opened. There was an ice cream ‘shoppe.’ There was a deli selling ‘organic produce.’ The citizens of Ballyglass watched these developments with disbelief, amusement, anger and finally despair. When the economy collapsed, the main feeling was one of vindication; it had always seemed ridiculous, fantastical, and so it had been proved. The town had been poor for all of its 500 years, and by God it would be poor again.”

Photo

After Alison’s wedding to Stephen, the novel splits into two new directions: Alison and Stephen begin a vexed honeymoon on Rhodes, and Liz travels to New Ulster,...


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What Russia's bold attempt to influence the 2016 election says about US political polarization - CNN

The Post said the Obama administration felt its hands were tied when Russian hacking first came to light because it did not want, itself, to be accused of interfering in an already turbulent campaign, in which Donald Trump was already claiming the election was rigged against him.

As President, Trump's claims that the Russian hacking accusations, validated by US intelligence agencies, and allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russians are just a big hoax perpetrated by Democrats upset about losing the election have cast doubt on whether the White House intends to take any muscular action to punish the Kremlin or to shore up US electoral defenses.

Trump used the weekend to deliberately stoke the partisanship around the alleged Russian interference in the election, apparently seeking to deflect calls for his own administration to address the issue and instead focusing...


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The Politics of Human Nature - Bloomberg

Early Returns

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

by
Jonathan Bernstein

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Ivanka Trump 'tries to stay out of politics.' Um, what? - CNN

"You know, I try to stay out of politics," Ivanka told Ainsley Earhardt in response to a question about whether she ever advised her father -- aka President Donald Trump -- about his Twitter feed.

Here's the thing: This is a) impossible b) a convenient rhetorical non-answer and c) logically inconsistent.

Start here. The President is a political figure. He is literally the most powerful politician in the country. He ran for the job. As a Republican. Which is a political party. He sends tweets every day -- six already today! -- about a wide variety of political matters.

Given all of that, you can't be a senior adviser to the president -- with a West Wing office no less! -- and proclaim that you "try to stay out of politics." That's like an assistant baseball coach saying that he "tries to stay out of baseball." Or the managing editor of a news organization saying she "tries to stay out...

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Opinion: Puerto Rico's Status Politics is Theater of the Absurd - NBCNews.com

Image: The flags of the U.S. and Puerto Rico fly outside the Capitol building in San Juan

The flags of the U.S. and Puerto Rico fly outside the Capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 4, 2017. ALVIN BAEZ / Reuters

The Department of Justice signaled its indifference by not certifying the plebiscite nor releasing $2.5 million in Federal funds appropriated for this event. Congressional response to the Governor’s demands has been tepid at best.

Making a moral case for Puerto Rican statehood is straightforward. Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States is undemocratic. As American citizens and veterans of foreign wars, Puerto Ricans should have the same political representation, rights and benefits as the other American citizens residing in the 50 states.

Mounting an economic argument is a different matter.

Even without its current $72 billion debt load Puerto Rico is poor by any standard. “Poorer than Mississippi” is how Puerto Rico is commonly described in...


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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Catch-22 Million - The Atlantic

Today in 5 Lines

The Senate Republican health-care bill would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Senate Republicans also proposed a provision to the bill that would punish individuals who go without coverage with a six-month waiting period before regaining coverage. The Supreme Court announced it will review President Trump’s travel ban in October, and will allow parts of the ban to take effect in the interim. And in a major church-state case, the Court also ruled that religious institutions cannot be denied public funds for secular purposes. President Trump met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Try, Try Again: While he came impressively close to beating Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s sixth district congressional special election, Molly Ball argues that Democrats will...


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Read more: The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Catch-22 Million - The Atlantic

Politics Podcast: The Health Care Episode - FiveThirtyEight

 
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